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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Klebnikov Suspect Skips Court Again

MTVakhayev, right, one of the two suspects in the Klebnikov murder case, leaving Moscow City Court on Wednesday.
A suspect in the murder of Forbes Russia editor Paul Klebnikov failed to show up in court Wednesday, raising doubts he would ever resurface and derailing the high-profile case.

It was the second time that Kazbek Dukuzov, who is 32 or 33, neglected to turn up at the Moscow City Court. Dukuzov missed a February hearing.

"This criminal case has been delayed indefinitely, and it won't proceed until Dukuzov is found and arrested," court spokeswoman Anna Usachyova told reporters outside the courtroom in the Preobrazhensky district.

Dukuzov's absence was met with concern and anger by Klebnikov family members who worry whether justice will be served. Klebnikov is just one of many journalists who have been killed during President Vladimir Putin's tenure; very few of those cases has been successfully prosecuted.

"This is a test case for all to see how committed the Russian government truly is to solving this case," Michael Klebnikov, brother of the slain journalist, said in an e-mailed statement. "Concrete actions are needed more than words. People will judge results."

Richard Behar, the investigative journalist who heads Project Klebnikov, a global media alliance formed to shed light on the Klebnikov case and those of other slain journalists in Russia, said: "In my view, it's doubtful that Russian law enforcement will locate the missing defendant, when they have not been able to even make arrests in the vast majority of cases involving the murders of reporters."

Behar added: "To me, it's also astounding that Russia is still refusing the offers from other governments to assist in the case. Russian officials concede that their judiciary is weak and not working well, so why not accept help? What's the harm? That said, it remains to be seen if the U.S. government will use all its influence to see that justice is done, especially regarding the ultimate authorship of Paul's murder."

Klebnikov, 41, was gunned down in Moscow on July 9, 2004.

Wednesday's court session had been set aside for selecting a jury.

Dukuzov and his suspected accomplice, Musa Vakhayev, were acquitted by the city court last May in the Klebnikov killing, but the Supreme Court overturned that ruling in November.

Vakhayev's lawyer, Vladimir Gorulkov, predicted that Dukuzov would now be tried in a separate case, presumably paving the way for the court to move forward with Vakhayev and notary Fail Sadretdinov.

Sadretdinov is now being tried in a separate case -- the attempted killing of Moscow realtor Alexei Pichugin. Dukuzov and Vakhayev are suspected of helping Sadretdinov in the failed attack.

The same jury that is hearing the Klebnikov case -- involving Dukuzov and Vakhayev -- is also hearing the Sadretdinov case.

On Wednesday, Ruslan Koblev, Sadretdinov's lawyer, said Dukuzov was in a hospital in Chechnya.

Vakhayev was forced to sign a court statement Wednesday saying he would not leave Moscow, Gorulkov said.

On Thursday, Gorulkov said, he will file an appeal to the Supreme Court saying his client should not be barred from leaving the city.

"They didn't have any right to order that Vakhayev be prevented from leaving," Gorulkov said. "Not only did he show, but he's also sick and has a temperature."